Monday, August 15, 2011

Blogathon 15: The Eternal Return Part One

[Beginning my discussion of The Authority: Revolution.]

Despite the comic being called The Authority: Revolution, the actual title of the story told here is "The Eternal Return." This is a comic that I didn't really like when it first came out nor any of the times I've reread it. I don't hate it either, I just don't think it's particularly strong. Part of the problem stems from my view on comics and what I wanted from this comic don't match up with what the comic is. To explain that properly, you'll need a little history of The Authority...

The Authority began as spin-off (I'd call it continuation) of Stormwatch vol. 2, which was a continuation of Stormwatch vol. 1. Written by Warren Ellis, there was a progression from one series to the next. In the first volume of Stormwatch, the United Nations superhero team confronted a changing world, one that didn't respond to old-style superheroics. Overtly political and challenging, it concluded with the outstanding three-part "Change or Die" where they confronted a group of superhumans set on changing the world through radical means. Ostensibly another group of heroes (complete with analogies for Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern...) it brought to a head the question of what it means to be a superhero in the late 20th century. Volume two shifted things as the team was restructured and continued to have problems adapting to the different demands, including a story "Bleed" where they were faced with the problem: is it right to interfere with the events in an alternate timeline? The team was ultimately killed off mostly, Stormwatch was discontinued, and things looked hopeless.

The Authority, led by Jenny Sparks, rose out of the ashes of Stormwatch and acted as the world's protectors, unafraid to get their hands dirty. They slaughtered villains, killed an entire country on an alternate Earth, and even killed God. After Ellis left, Mark Millar took over and took the book in a slightly different direction as the group began to deal with problems on Earth more directly. Things like dictators and the Powers That Be. At times, those PTB struck back, ending with a very Grant Morrison-esque ending where the Authority made humanity solve a universe-threatening problem that it created without their help. They did.

After that, I lost track of the book a little. All I know is that, eventually, something happened and in a story called Coup D'Etat, the Authority took over the United States of America. They ousted the current president and put themselves in charge. That's where Revolution picks up.

What bothered me about this title was that it never seemed to really explore the idea of what the Authority in charge would entail, how they could actively change the country. Some lip service is paid in the opening issues, but even that's distracted by an enemy to fight. In the end, it becomes another typical superhero comic. Not quite the 'revolution' of the series's title, it's definitely 'the eternal return' of the story's title. And that's where the conflict lies, prompting the questions:

What do you do with a comic that's goals are ones you are opposed to? And is it fair to judge it on your expectations/standards?

In 30 minutes, I'll try to answer those questions.

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